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Do I Need a Permit to Convert My Garage, Shed, or Barn?

Garages, sheds, and outbuildings can have any number of purposes, from the obvious, like storing your tools or car, to the more creative, like housing a workspace, playroom, or workout facility on your own property. You can do all sorts of things with the space inside your garage, shed, or barn, from creating an art studio to building a full-fledged apartment. But before you get too far into your renovation project, you’ll need to make sure to get the necessary planning permissions.

What Is Planning Permission?

Planning permission is approval from local government authorities that is sometimes required for construction or renovation projects in order to ensure that the work will be safely executed and up to code. When someone wishes to make alterations to their land or property, they often must first obtain planning permission, which usually comes in the form of a building permit.

Alterations that generally require a permit can include things like adding an expansion to your home or demolishing a wall. Permit requirements don’t apply to your house, either: Depending on the work you’re planning and your local laws, renovating barns, sheds, and outbuildings may require a permit as well.

What Happens if I Don’t Get Planning Permission?

Failing to get the proper planning permission before starting construction can end up costing you a lot in the long run. If it’s discovered that you have renovated or put on an addition without first going through the planning permission process, local authorities can heavily fine you or order you to stop work if it isn’t yet complete. They also might order you to remove sections so they can do a proper inspection, meaning that you’ll need to redo this work and buy the materials all over again. In the worst scenario, they could even order you to completely tear down what you’ve done.

Even if you get away with doing work without the proper permit, though, it could come back to hurt you later. When you’re getting insurance or putting your house up for sale, a lack of proper permits on file for renovations can affect your appraised home value.

Can I Convert My Garage Without Planning Permission?

Maybe. The answer is largely dependent on where you live and the exact type of work being done. Since these permits are approved and handed out by the local government, you’ll need to check your local zoning laws to figure out precisely what you do and don’t need a permit for. You can either speak with your local building officials or check the laws online.

When you’re renovating barns, sheds, and outbuildings, you may not need planning permission if the work you plan on doing is all internal. If, however, you want to add on an extension to your existing garage or completely build a new one, then you’ll probably need to get a permit. Also, consider whether you’re completely changing the purpose of the space: The type of space you’re creating may affect which building codes apply and whether or not you need a permit for the work.

Do You Need Planning Permission to Convert a Detached Garage?

Here, too, the answer is “maybe.” The rules governing whether or not you need planning permission to convert a detached garage can be slightly more lenient than those that apply to a garage attached to the house. But again, permit requirements can vary greatly from one municipality to the next, and they can also change depending on the extent of the work you’re planning. Creating a living space or adding on an extension will probably need a permit, but you may not need planning permission to convert a detached garage into an art studio, which is likely to require less extensive renovations.

Do You Need Planning Permission to Turn a Carport Into a Garage?

You’ll probably need to submit your plan for approval before you can convert a carport into a garage. You’ll need to add walls and probably run electrical wiring, which add up to significant changes to the structure. In addition, local laws may treat carports and garages differently: For instance, you may be allowed to place a carport closer to the property line than is allowed for a garage.

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